WASHINGTON — The United States is sending an additional $45 million in equipment and services to Central American nations devastated by Hurricane Mitch, President Clinton said Saturday.
"A storm shows no respect for boundaries, and we should respond the same way," Clinton said in his weekly radio address. "The United States will spare no aid to the people of Central America--our fellow Americans."
Mitch left more than 11,000 people dead and hobbled the region's economy when it slammed into Central America last month, causing what U.S. officials have called the worst natural disaster in the region's history. The storm caused massive mudslides, destroyed homes and road systems, and all but wiped out the banana crops that help drive the region's economy.
The United States has contributed $80 million to the recovery effort, but more help is needed, Clinton said.
Clinton also said he asked Treasury Secretary Robert E. Rubin to find a way to provide debt relief for Nicaragua and Honduras as well as emergency financial aid from the United States and the international community.
President Carlos Flores Facusse of Honduras has said reconstruction could cost four times his nation's $1.2-billion annual budget.
In the Republican radio talk, Rep. Michael D. Crapo of Idaho said the current tensions involving Iraq argue for the need to strengthen U.S. defense.
"We cannot allow continued deterioration of our national security," Crapo said.
He also said "early efforts" in the new Congress will be to keep the budget balanced and pay down the national debt and reform Social Security.